The Master and Margarita
“Considered one of the finest creations of Russian literature in the 20th century, The Master and Margarita is an amazing work of fantasy, a love story, a biting satire on Soviet life, and a lot more. Michail Bulgakov’s last book and crowning achievement, it has been written in secrecy, burned and restored, and banned for decades. Its author, who worked on it until his final days, never saw it in print,” writes Michael Karpelson.
Our walk with Ekaterina Volkova, the actress playing Margarita in the theatre, starts at Patriarch’s Ponds, continues on her favorite routes described in the novel, and finishes at the museum-theatre “The House of Bulgakov” where I watch the famous play with Ekaterina’s beautiful acting.
Margarita appeared in her life one day, long before she became an actress, a young man approached her on the street saying that she looked exactly as the heroine of Bulgakov’s novel. Ekaterina had to buy the book and read it. She got so much impressed by the character of Margarita, the idea of her playing in the theatre was born then. In her significant cinema and theatre career she has played so many roles, but none of the roles she has been playing lasted for 20 years. Would we call it destiny?
“Follow me, reader! Who told you there is no true faithful, eternal love in this world? May the liar’s filthy tongue be cut off! Follow me, my reader, and me alone, and I will show you such love!”
“She carried yellow flowers! An unpleasant color. She turned into an alley of Tverskaya, and then she looked back. You know Tverskaya. right? Thousands of people were walking on Tverskaya, but I swear to you that she saw me alone, and she looked at me in this somewhat disturbed, almost sickly way. And I was stunned not so much by her beauty as by extraordinary, unheard-of loneliness in her eyes!”
“She looked at me in surprise, and I came to the sudden and completely unexpected realization that, all my life, I had been in love with this exact woman!”
The main character, a writer known only as the Master, and his passionate companion, Margarita—exist in a world that blends fantasy and chilling realism, an artful collage of grotesqueries, dark comedy, and timeless ethical questions.
The novel deals with the interplay of good and evil, innocence and guilt, courage and cowardice, exploring such issues as the responsibility towards truth when authority would deny it, and freedom of the spirit in an unfree world. Love and sensuality are also dominant themes in the novel. The novel is a riot of sensual impressions, but the emptiness of sensual gratification without love is emphasized in the satirical passages.
The interplay of fire, water, destruction, and other natural forces provides a constant accompaniment to the events of the novel, as do light and darkness, noise and silence, sun and moon, storms and tranquility, and other powerful polarities. There is a complex relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow throughout the novel, sometimes polyphony, sometimes counterpoint.
Though completed in 1940, “The Master and Margarita” wasn’t published in Moscow until 1966, when the first part appeared in the magazine “Moskva.” It was an immediate and enduring success: audiences responded with great enthusiasm to its expression of artistic and spiritual freedom.
There are so many quotes from the book that left the pages of the novel and live their own life as decoration of our speech:
Just like a murderer jumps of nowhere in an ally, love jumped out in front of us and struck us both at once
Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that
Manuscripts do not burn.
The theatre-museum “House of Bulgakov” is open for you to visit!